Welcome to Traveling Tuesdays! This is where I open up my blog to some of my favorite moms on Instagram to give their recommendations for family-friendly places to go in their home cities. Today, we’ve got Laura Kennedy (aka @twinjamjam) from Denver!
Denver has so much to offer when it comes to family friendly activities. Having grown up in Miami, and visiting family often with my twin girls, I have a whole new appreciation for living somewhere that makes it easy to entertain my never-tiring toddlers. One of the best things about Denver is that 90% of the places you go are kid and dog friendly. Denver’s casual and laid-back lifestyle allows you to have fun and focus on enjoying the company of your friends and family. Added bonus: Spring may even include some snow but with plenty of sunshine!
Here are some of our favorite family-friendly things to do here in Denver:
1) Park Sledding and Ice Skating
If you’re lucky enough to experience Spring snow in Denver, my best advice is to take full advantage. This was a hard one for my inner Miami girl, but honestly, it’s not as bad as you would think. You don’t have to layer a ton and the sun is usually shinning. Your best bet is to grab a sled and some winter gear and head to the park hills. Don’t worry, if you don’t have any just hit up Target and chances are you will score some great finds on sale.
It’s one the best ways to let your kiddos release all their energy, and all but guarantees an afternoon nap. We are also known for having some of the best Snowman building snow! Some of our favorite parks to sled are George Wallace Park and Robinson Park.
If winter activities are your jam, there is also the Downtown Denver Rink at Skyline Park, which puts you right in the heart of the city.
You can make a trip to the Denver zoo anytime of year. In the fall, they have Boo at the Zoo and in the winter they have Zoo Lights, which makes for some awesome photo opportunities.
But the spring and summer are our favorite times to visit because you can really experience all the animal life. Initially, I was skeptical about the zoo, but then I saw how amazed the girls were by all the animals and became a big fan.
Our girls aren’t quite old enough for the up-close encounters with lions, penguins and elephants just yet, but they look awesome.
For now, we love just observing the sea lions and llamas and going to the bird demonstrations. The zoo also has a train ride, a carousel and a huge sand play area where the girls can literally spend hours.
Oh and did I mention the food options are delicious? They sell local beers and wine in a can! Make sure to check out the Denver Zoo site for FREE days.
The Children’s Museum of Denver is really fun for all ages. It has saved our sanity during cold, snowy winter days and kept us entertained for hours on hot summer days too. I have been taking my girls there since they were babies. There’s a dedicated baby-friendly area where the kids can play and the parents can relax because everything is soft and safe. Some of our current favorites include the testing kitchen where the girls learn to cook real food and eat it, the art studio where we can paint or make clay sculptures and of course, the play market where they get to shop for fruits and veggies.
For those with older kiddos, they have STEM workshops and Altitude, where kids can climb more than three stories to a glass-capped peak with amazing 360-degree views of the city.
There’s also the brand new Adventure Forest set to open any day now, which is a 500 ft. long aerial adventure course. I’m sure my kids are going to love going there when they get older.
Joy Park, the outdoor park is a perfect alternative if the kids get tired of being indoors. It has a zip line, huge sand area with shovels, and dump trucks, and the perfect grass area for a picnic. In the summer days they turn on the water features and it’s the best way to cool down.
4) The Museum of Nature and Science
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is currently my favorite place to spend a day. They have so many fun, educational exhibits for the girls but they also have interesting adult ones, like most recently, the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit. It’s so cool seeing the girls in awe of how huge T-Rex was and I absolutely love learning with them. The museum itself is a gorgeous place with its bright atrium café and amazing city views from the Anschutz Family Sky Terrace.
They recently remodeled and expanded the kids Discovery Zone and it’s well worth a visit. It’s targeted for kids ages three to five but mine are two and love it.
Some other highlights are the animal halls and space odyssey exhibits. It’s truly amazing to watch them grow and learn so much in just a couple of visits. This was a membership we had to have and I can’t wait to experience the IMAX and the planetarium with them next!
5) Our Favorite Ice Cream Shops
Denver does not disappoint on the ice cream front and these are some of our favorite local shops. Let’s start with my #1 favorite, Bonnie Brae Ice Cream. This shop has been around since 1986 and they make all their ice cream in house. They serve up all the traditional sweet treats like cones, sundaes, banana splits and thick shakes along with delicious take homes like cakes and pies.
You can enjoy unique flavors like Banana Walnut or Ginger Spice or good ’ol fashion favorites like vanilla and chocolate in the quaint, retro atmosphere inside or in the patio. One of my favorite things about them is that they offer an itty bitty which is a tiny sized cone ideal for younger kids and mamas trying to watch their calorie intake.
Next up is Little Man Ice Cream. This outdoor only shop serves traditional and hand-crafted treats out of a 28-foot cream can which makes the experience one of a kind. The owners really take the time to transform the cobblestone plaza into a lively venue for a variety of events. It has quickly become a neighborhood staple and a city favorite.
I once heard someone refer to Denver as the Napa Valley of beer. There are more breweries per square mile than Starbucks! The best part about the breweries in Denver, in my opinion, is that they can be enjoyed with the whole family (dogs too!) or as parents’ night out. We recently checked out Rackhouse with large group of friends and all of our kids (15+ people) and I was really impressed.
The 21,000 sq. ft. space serves as the tasting room for Bierstadt Lager and C Squared Cider, so needless to say, it is huge and very accommodating. There are tons of games to keep everyone entertained (Super Nintendo on the big screen!), lots of space for everyone to spread out and there’s no need to worry about your kids being loud. The food was outstanding. I highly recommend the Mac n Cheese and the Cheesesteak Sandwich.
Another favorite of ours is the family owned and run, Diebolt Brewing. The atmosphere is fun and relaxing and you can always find a food truck outside serving yummy food. We love coming here for the French-inspired craft beer and the friendly staff vibes. We’ve attended several birthdays and events in their 3,000 sq. ft. private event space and every now and then they host a story time session for the kids (so cool, right?!). Fur babies are welcome as well!
I haven’t gotten a chance to check these other ones out myself but they come highly recommended by plenty of my mommy friends: Breckenridge Brewery, Declaration Brewing, Station 26 Brewing Co, Platt Park Brewing, Long Table Brewhouse.
7) Other Worthy Mentions
Growing up, water parks were only something I enjoyed on a Disney vacation. But when I moved to here, my husband, a Denver native, informed me that we had one in our own backyard: Water World. It has all the family-friendly fun you expect from a water park. If that’s your thing and you want to cool off this summer, I highly recommend checking it out.
Another worthy mention is the Denver Botanic Gardens. The gardens are absolutely beautiful and in the summer, you can enjoy a variety of kid-friendly or adult-only events involving live music. They also have a children’s play area which features a tree house and pond. I am super excited to take my girls this summer now that they can walk and climb. Make sure to check out their site for the most updated events and exhibits.
Laura Kennedy is a stay-at-home mom of twin girls, Cali and Gianna, and an adopted Labradoodle. She was born in Colombia and grew up in Miami where she met her husband Chad, a Denver native. They have been living in Denver since 2010 and love taking advantage of all the seasonal activities Denver has to offer. Prior to the mom gig, she worked as an Industrial Engineer and Project Manager for American Express Travel and later Travelport. In additional to contributing to different blogs, she created her own space in 2017, TwinJamJam, to connect with other parents by sharing her experiences as a mom of twins. You can follow her multicultural, twin mama life on Instagram at @twinjamjam.